Vols waiting to decide on starting quarterback
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee's depth chart reflects the uncertain status of its quarterback situation heading into Saturday's game with South Carolina.
The Volunteers' starting quarterback is listed as senior Justin Worley or sophomore Nathan Peterman or sophomore Joshua Dobbs. Peterman started last week's 34-20 loss to Alabama in place of an injured Worley, while Dobbs entered the game on Tennessee's third series and remained in the rest of the way.
''We'll name a starter when we need to, but we're in no rush,'' Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. ''Depth charts are a thing of the past. They've gone out about 10 years ago.''
Jones hasn't ruled out a two-quarterback system.
''I haven't (done that) in the past just because I like to have a quarterback get into the rhythm of the game and get a feel for it, but right now we're scratching and clawing for every victory we can,'' Jones said. ''Whatever it takes to win football games right now, that's what we're looking to do.''
Part of the issue is whether Worley is healthy enough to play. Jones said after the Alabama game that Worley couldn't play after tests showed ''he didn't have the zip and velocity that you would need to play at this level.'' Even if Worley is cleared this week, Jones said there's no guarantee the senior would get the start when Tennessee (3-5, 0-4 SEC) visits South Carolina (4-4, 2-4).
''The best players who have the best week of performance, they'll play on Saturday,'' Jones said.
Dobbs provided a spark last week for a slumping offense by rushing for 75 yards and going 19 for 32 for 192 yards passing with two touchdowns. He also threw an interception and lost a fumble.
After starting Tennessee's final four games in place of an injured Worley last season, Dobbs hadn't played at all this year until the Alabama game. Jones intended on redshirting Dobbs until Worley got hurt again.
''I feel like I played well,'' Dobbs said after the game. ''Of course, there is always room for improvement. I know we had two turnovers tonight, so we've got to eliminate that.''
That room for improvement includes accuracy issues that have bothered Dobbs since his arrival at Tennessee. Dobbs has completed 59.5 percent of his career pass attempts.
''Make the routine throws, not the `Oh, my God' plays, but the routine plays,'' Jones said. ''Why do shortstops in major league baseball make millions of dollars? Because they make the routine throw to first base over and over and over and over again. ... Josh is still a very young football player. He's still learning as we go.''
Tennessee also has an unclear situation on its offensive line after injuries to guard Marcus Jackson and tackle Coleman Thomas forced the Vols to use their fourth different starting combination of the season last week. Tennessee ran the ball and protected the passer pretty effectively against Alabama with a group that included left tackle Brett Kendrick, left guard Kyler Kerbyson, center Mack Crowder, right guard Jashon Robertson and right tackle Jacob Gilliam.
Jones said Jackson should return this week and that Thomas also has a chance to play. The depth chart features a first-team line that includes Kendrick at left tackle, Jackson at left guard, Crowder at center, Robertson at right guard and Kerbyson at right tackle. But Jones said the depth chart doesn't necessarily reflect how Tennessee will actually start the game.
''It's just names on a list,'' Jones said. ''The best five will play.''
NOTES: Defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry, who was helped to the sideline after getting hurt in the second half of the Alabama game, won't play against South Carolina. ... Wide receiver Josh Smith will miss a sixth straight game with a high ankle sprain. Jones said he would consider redshirting Smith if the sophomore isn't at 100 percent when the Vols return from a bye week to face Kentucky on Nov. 15.